Wimbledon News and Notes

Wimbledon News and Notes

Defending champ Nadal withdraws from Wimbledon
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -Defending champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from Wimbledon on Friday because of tendinitis in his knees.

He is the first reigning Wimbledon men's champion to not defend the title since Goran Ivanisevic in 2002 - and only the second in the last 35 years.

The grass-court Grand Slam tournament begins Monday.

''I'm just not 100 percent,'' the No. 1-ranked Nadal said in a news conference at the All England Club. ''I'm better than I was a couple of weeks ago but I just don't feel ready.''

His announcement came about 2 1/2 hours after he lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in an exhibition match on grass at the Hurlingham Club in south London. Nadal also lost an exhibition there to 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt on Thursday.

Nadal has complained about his knees since his fourth-round loss at the French Open on May 31 ended his streak of four consecutive championships at Roland Garros. Later that week, he pulled out of the Wimbledon tuneup tournament at Queen's Club, then went to Barcelona to have tests on his knees.

''I think I reached the limit right now. I need to reset to come back stronger,'' Nadal said.

Asked what sort of threat the knee problems might present to his career moving forward, he said: ''It's not chronic. I can recover for sure.''

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Wimbledon men's draw: Odds for top contenders
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

Men to watch at Wimbledon, which begins Monday (rankings in parentheses):

ROGER FEDERER (2) -115

Age: 27

Country: Switzerland

2009 Match Record: 33-6

2009 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 59

Major Titles: 14 - Wimbledon ('03, '04, '05, '06, '07), U.S. Open ('04, '05, '06, '07, '08), Australian Open ('04, '06, '07), French Open ('09)

Last 5 Wimbledons: '08-F, '07-W, '06-W, '05-W, '04-W

Topspin: Title at Roland Garros this month made him sixth man with a career Grand Slam and allowed him to tie Pete Sampras' record of 14 major championships. ... Has reached the final at 15 of past 16 majors and the semifinals at a record 20 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. ... Entered May's Madrid Open without a title this season, but has won last two tournaments. ... When Nadal upset Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final, the Spaniard became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win at Roland Garros and the All England Club in the same year. Now Federer will attempt to match that.

ANDY MURRAY (3) +285

Age: 22

Country: Britain

2009 Match Record: 40-6

2009 Singles Titles: 4

Career Singles Titles: 12

Major Titles: 0 - Best: F, at U.S. Open in '08

Last 5 Wimbledons: '08-QF, '07-DNP, '06-4th, '05-3rd, '04-DNP

Topspin: Once again, the Scot will be subjected to intense scrutiny and pressure as British fans hope for their first homegrown male champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. ... Has progressed one step further each time he's competed at All England Club. ... Title at Queen's Club last week was first for a British man at that grass-court tuneup event since 1938.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC (4) +1301

Age: 22

Country: Serbia

2009 Match Record: 43-13

2009 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 13

Major Titles: 1 - Australian Open ('08)

Last 5 Wimbledons: '08-2nd, '07-SF, '06-4th, '05-3rd, '04-DNP

Topspin: Took steps back at each of this year's first two major tournaments, exiting in quarterfinals while defending Australian Open title, then getting surprised by Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets in third round at French Open, where he was a semifinalist in 2007 and 2008.

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO (5) +2252

Age: 20

Country: Argentina

2009 Match Record: 31-9

2009 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 5

Major Titles: 0 - Best: SF, at French Open in '09

Last 5 Wimbledons: '08-2nd, '07-2nd, '06-DNP, '05-DNP, '04-DNP

Topspin: Made first Grand Slam semifinal at Roland Garros, then pushed Federer to five sets. ... Youngest member of top 10. ... At 6-foot-6, with versatile game, del Potro is high on the list of next big things in men's tennis.

ANDY RODDICK (6) +2854

Age: 26

Country: United States

2009 Match Record: 33-8

2009 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 27

Major Titles: 1 - U.S. Open ('03)

Last 5 Wimbledons: '08-2nd, '07-QF, '06-3rd, '05-F, '04-F

Topspin: Hurt his right foot in a freak on-court accident during Queen's Club tournament last week, but expects to play at Wimbledon. ... Coming off a fourth-round run at French Open, by far his best showing at that Grand Slam event.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA (9) +3004

Age: 24

Country: France

2009 Match Record: 32-10

2009 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 4

Major Titles: 0 - Best: F, at Australian Open in '08

Last 5 Wimbledons: '08-DNP, '07-4th, '06-DNP, '05-DNP, '04-DNP

Topspin: Missed Wimbledon in 2008 after right knee surgery. ... Part of young crop of French talent that includes No. 7 Gilles Simon.

ROBIN SODERLING (12) +6053

Age: 24

Country: Sweden

2009 Match Record: 18-11

2009 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 3

Major Titles: 0 - Best: F, at French Open in '09

Last 5 Wimbledons: '08-2nd, '07-3rd, '06-1st, '05-1st, '04-1st

Topspin: Quite a breakthrough at Roland Garros, knocking off Nadal, along with other top-15 victories over Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Gonzalez and David Ferrer, en route to Grand Slam final debut. Never had been past the third round at a major tournament.

MARAT SAFIN (23)

Age: 29

Country: Russia

2009 Match Record: 7-10

2009 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 15

Major Titles: 2 - U.S. Open ('00), Australian Open ('05)

Last 5 Wimbledons: '08-SF, '07-3rd, '06-2nd, '05-3rd, '04-1st

Topspin: Says this is his final season on tour, making this his last appearance at Wimbledon. ... Seeded 14th, nine spots above his ranking. ... Last year marked his first trip past the third round at the All England Club since reaching the 2001 quarterfinals. ... A crowd favorite, he's liable to do just about anything during a match - yell at himself, smash a racket, drop his shorts, play brilliantly or erratically - and say just about anything after it.

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Re: Wimbledon News and Notes

Wimbledon preview: Nadal's absence will be felt       
By Rich Rodriguez
Outsports.com

Every year, before we even get a chance to revel in the shocks, surprises, and triumphs of Roland Garros, we must kick off the clay and hit the greener pastures of The All England Club for The Championships at Wimbledon. Those ballers who carry an aggressive mindset and are comfortable on the slick stuff have the clear advantage and increase their chances of ending up in the winner’s circle.

Unfortunately, word comes that defending champion Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from tourney with tendinitis in his knees. It’s a huge blow to the tourney and his fans but an enormous opportunity for someone to seize the moment and make their mark.

So who are the favorites to take home tennis’ most prestigious prize?

MEN

Roger Federer –
Even if he didn’t win the French Open crown, most would put the Swiss maestro as co-favorite with his Spanish nemesis to grab his sixth Wimbledon Championship. Why? Well, he won 5-in-a-row from 2003 – 2007, owns a 44-5 record, and has the game and sublime skills tailor-made for the quick, low-bouncing surface. But he did win the French, and now we will all have the pleasure of watching Fed go for a record-breaking 15th major on his favored grass. And with his biggest obstacle (read: Rafa) now on the sidelines chances are good he’ll get there.

Andy Murray – To say the Brit’s have been hungry for a legitimate homegrown hope to win their Grand Slam would be the ultimate understatement.

Fred Perry was the last Brit to capture tennis’ most prestigious prize way back in 1936 while Bunny Austin was the last to make the final in 1938. But that could all change with Andy Murray, especially with the withdrawal of Rafa who sat in the same half as the Brit. The 22-year old can look back at last year’s epic fourth round win over Richard Gasquet as a turning point in his career and this year he enters the season’s third major as Queen’s Club champ earning his first grass-court credentials. Incidentally, Rafa also won Queen’s Club last year for his first title on the green and, the rest they say, is history. Can the World No.3 repeat that feat?

Novak Djokovic – The Serb had been the poster child for inconsistency this year until he hit the red dirt winning his second title of the season (Belgrade) while also making two Masters 1000 finals. But in true form, Nole lost in the third round of Paris after making the semifinals last season. Ouch. The good news is he can make up ground at Wimbledon after being shocked in the second round last year by Marat Safin. His lack of a major weapon and frail health raise questions about his chances, though.

Juan Martin del Potro – This towering Argentine is slowly building towards his Grand Slam breakthrough after reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal in Paris. He took Fed to the edge in a thrilling five-setter before succumbing to the eventual champ. But his flat, powerful groundies will be dangerous on the grass and the wingspan on this 6’ 6” baller will be hard to pass at net. JMDP also benefited from Rafa’s withdrawal taking his place in the top half of the draw where he becomes the highest seed in that quarter.

Others to watch:

Andy Roddick –
The American is a two-time finalist (’04, ’05) having lost out both times to Fed. But his newfound fitness and growing confidence have seen his game blossom this year with a semifinal appearance in Oz and a trip to the second week at Roland Garros, a first of his career.  His booming serve and forehand are weapons anywhere but even more devastating on the slick grass. And, coupled with a cleaned up backhand and natural affinity for the surface, A-Rod could make some serious noise this fortnight.

Marin Cilic – Another of the ATP’s 6’ 6” giants, this 20-year old by way of Croatia already has three career titles but has been plagued by inconsistency. However, he prefers the quicker surfaces and even made the fourth round here last year. So if his booming serve starts to click and he keeps the points short, he could do much better this time around.

Marat Safin – A sentimental choice, this former top baller is playing his last year on Tour. Even though he’s been vocal about his dislike for this surface, he made an inspired run to the semifinals falling to Fed. Let’s hope he gives it his all during his final appearance at The All England Club – and gets some show time on Centre Court.

LADIES

One could always argue the current WTA Tour remains a wide open when discussing potential winners of any tourney – but not on grass. There are only a handful of lady ballers who truly love playing on the slick stuff and that comfort goes a long way in winning the title here.

Venus Williams – She’s the current Queen of Grass having won the aptly named Venus Rosewater Dish five times including last year over sister Serena. And even though she went down in the third round at Roland Garros, V will still enter The All England Club with confidence. In fact, last year she was ousted in the same round in Paris and still managed to play her “A” game when it mattered to win the crown. So what makes the 29-year old so devastating on the grass? She has a massive serve (still holds the record for the fastest delivery on the WTA Tour at 129 mph), a fiercely attacking game, and world-class athleticism. All of her other disappointments go out the window when she steps onto Centre Court – this is V’s house.

Serena Williams – The only other woman in the draw who can match V stroke for stroke on the green would be Serena. She’s a two-time champ having defeated her older sister in 2002 and 2003 but losing to her last season. Her serve, particularly the second delivery, is more consistent than Vee’s; but ironically it’s the second serve that makes the difference between them on grass. V hits a skidding slice serve that stays low on this surface while ReRe hits a kicker which tends to sit up and becomes more attackable. Fortunately they were placed in opposite halves of the draw and could only meet in the final. And if they do, whoever serves better will win the title.

Svetlana Kuznetsova – The newly-crowned Roland Garros champ has never fared particularly well on grass having only reached the quarterfinals three times (’03, ’05, ’07). Moreover, Sveta just lost in the first round of Eastbourne, a Wimbledon warm up, after requesting a wild card into the tourney. She has the tools to do well on the grass including a solid serve, big forehand, net skills, and great athleticism. But she’ll need to play quicker points, hit through her top-spinning forehand a bit more, and make her way forward if she’s to reach the final four for the first time.

Dinara Safina – Like brother Marat, Dinara has a self-professed dislike for grass-court tennis and her two third round appearances doesn’t bode well for her chances. Dinara is the world’s top lady baller, however, so she has the game to do well here. She’ll need to keep her mentality in check after another devastating loss in a major final this time to Sveta in Paris. In that loss, her fragile emotional state was exposed and Dinara was a shadow of the baller who had lost a total of five games in her first four matches. Believing you can win on grass is half that battle so if the Russian can keep her focus squarely on the ball, a second week appearance is certainly in the cards.

Others to watch:

Maria Sharapova –
This Russian superstar would be one of the favorites to take the title if she had more competitive matches under her belt since returning from injured reserve. Nevertheless, as a former champ (’04) the Russian is still a strong dark horse. Her uber-aggressive power game can be used to devastating effect on the grass, so if she finds her groove early on watch out.

Victoria Azarenka – This 20-year old Belarusian basher has a game built like Maria’s – attack, “shriek”, attack, “shriek” – and an intensity to match. Vika is on the cusp of a major breakthrough but her emotional volatility has been her undoing recently. She’ll need to stay calm and focused against the top ballers in the biggest matches before she earns her first major title.

Caroline Wozniacki – Another up-and-comer on the verge of breakthrough, this Dane has a love for the grass as evidenced by her junior Wimbledon champion and arrival in last weekend’s Eastbourne final. Wozzi doesn’t possess any outstanding weapons but is quick, nimble, and consistent.

Sam Stosur – A surprise semifinalist at Roland Garros where she pushed eventual champ Sveta to three sets, this Aussie veteran has one of the biggest serves in the ladies’ game and superb net skills to boot – weapons that should do well for her at Wimbledon. Can she carry over the momentum from Paris and make a run to her first major title?

PREDICTIONS:

MEN

Semifinal: Federer vs. Djokovic, Murray vs. Del Potro
Final: Federer vs. Murray
Winner: Federer

LADIES
Semifinal: Serena vs. Dementieva, Venus vs. Wozniacki
Final: Serena vs. Venus
Winner: Serena

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Re: Wimbledon News and Notes

2009 Wimbledon Predictions
Christopher G. Shepard

It's all strawberries and cream for Roger Federer as he attempts to win his 15th Grand Slam title at the All England Club beginning Monday June 22 continuing through July 5. It's unlikely he'll be able to avenge his loss to Rafael Nadal in last year's epic final since Nadal is holding a news conference Friday afternoon where it is expected the world's No.1 tennis player is likely pull out of this year's tournament due a persistent knee injury he sustained at Madrid a week before the French Open.

Sports investment powerhouse Bodog is back at their old Web address and they have set the odds for both Ladies and Gentlemen's 2009 Wimbledon future winners. Bodog will also provide daily lines for the many early- and late-round matches. If you are planning on investing in tennis during the next two weeks keep in mind that if you live on the East Coast there is a five-hour time difference and eight hours if you are on the Left Coast. So plan your investment strategy accordingly.

2009 Wimbledon predictions - Who will win the men's championship?


Unless you don't get the World Wide Leader you are probably aware that Federer finally won the French Open. Since eventual finalist Robin Soderling dismissed Rafa from the French Open and Federer didn't beat Nadal, let the debate begin if Federer's win was a quality win. Take it from me -- it was. The win gave Federer the career Grand Slam (winning all the Grand Slams) he'd been wanting for so long. Federer's win pushed him past Pete Sampras for most Grand Slam titles. However, the 4/5 favorite to win this year is still tied with Bjorn Borg with five Wimbledon titles, good enough for second all-time behind Sampras, who won seven Wimbledon championships.

If Federer hopes to win his sixth title he will need to get by projected semi-finalist Novak Djokavic, who was eliminated in the second round last year. However, don't let the Serb's early exit fool you. Not only was he a semi-finalist here in 2007, he is a super grass-court player who has the ability to push Federer to five sets if they meet. Granted, Federer is one of the best grass court players out there but it will be interesting to see if he can sustain his focus after a huge career milestone at Roland Garros. If this was a college football matchup I would peg Federer for the letdown.

Andy Murray once quipped, when asked about his nationality, "When I win I am British but when I lose I am a Scot!" However, it has been a while since he's been asked that question. Murray is set as the third favorite to win (now the second since Nadal has pulled out) and has risen to No. 3 in the ATP. The question all Brits are asking themselves is not "if" but "when?" Is 2009 the year a Brit finally wins the title for the gentlemen?

The last Brit to win Wimbledon was Fred Perry in 1936. Gamblers who are superstitious should note that this year Murray will honor Perry's 100th birthday by going retro. Murray will don a traditional all-white outfit by clothing manufacturer Fred Perry that will feature the initials "AM" under the laurel leaves. Federer was the last male player to make a fashion statement at Wimbledon in 2005 when he came out for his first match with a five-piece outfit avec dinner jacket with gold "RF" initials on the pocket and he went on to win the title that year. With Rafa pulling out the road to the finals has gotten infinitely easier for Murray, who is currently set at 11/4. However, those odds are guaranteed to drop, most likely to 2/1. Even so, like most Brits I think this is Murray's year.

Finally, looking up and down the draws this could be one of those changing-of-the-guard years. After winning four titles from 1996-2000, Goran Ivanisevic had that improbable win in 2001 and then in 2002 Lleyton Hewitt of all people won the title. Wimbledon has since been dominated by Federer and Nadal. This year there might be another improbable winner so I like the field at 20/1, a great price given the amount of talent left off the board. It's in the realm of possibility that a Nikolay Davydenko or Marin Cilic finally breaks through and wins the title.

Pick! Andy Murray, 11/4
Long Odds Pick! Field 20/1

Tennis - Wimbledon 2009 - Gentlemen's Winner
June 22 - July 5, 2009 - All England Club, UK

Roger Federer 4/5
Rafael Nadal 11/2
Andy Murray 11/4
Novak Djokovic 10/1
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 20/1
Andy Roddick 25/1
Juan Martin Del Potro 25/1
Fernando Verdasco 50/1
Robin Soderling 50/1
Field (Any Other Player) 20/1

2009 Wimbledon predictions - Who will win the women's championship?

My picks to win the women's French Open were cruising on the Red Clay when both picks met in the semi-finals. Victoria Azarenka and Dinara Safina both had played well deep into the tournament, but Safina had eliminated her opponents like some people swat flies. Coming into the French Open Safina made a big fuss about not getting the credit she deserved as the WTA's newly-minted No. 1 player. Safina publicly wondered why people made such a fuss about her never winning a Grand Slam.

At the French Open she was poised to silence her critics and finally earn the respect she thought she so truly deserved. But that is why they play the matches. And in the final Safina proved her critics correct. She couldn't handle the pressure. The night before her final against Svetlana Kuznetsova she was so nervous that she cried for four hours straight. She was a basket case by the time the match started and was unable to get by the Russian robo-tennis player Kuznetsova, who handily picked apart her game and forced her into record unforced errors; a completely different Safina that had dominated the entire tournament.

This slam is different; it's on grass and that means the title will go through the Williams sisters. Venus has been as dominant as Federer on grass and she'll look to defend her title and win her sixth Wimbledon this year. She is still behind Martina Navratilova, who holds nine singles titles and Steffi Graf, who has seven. Incredibly, sister Serena only has two titles! The fact that Serena is seeded No.2 and her sister is seeded No. 3 makes it entirely possible we'll have a repeat of the dreaded Williams Sister Slam. And this year we'll see the older Williams most likely win it once again.

Pick! Venus Williams, 11/4
Long Odds Pick! Maria Sharapova, 7/1

Tennis - Wimbledon 2009 - Ladies' Champion
June 22 - July 5, 2009 - All England Club, UK

Serena Williams 5/2
Venus Williams 11/4
Maria Sharapova 7/1
Dinara Safina 8/1
Victoria Azarenka 12/1
Jelena Jankovic 12/1
Ana Ivanovic 16/1
Svetlana Kuznetsova 16/1
Elena Dementieva 25/1
Field (Any Other Player) 6/1

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